Office-based staff - including many solicitors - will be advised by the government to work from home where they can until the final stage of the easing of lockdown.
In its ‘four step roadmap’ released today, the government confirmed that guidance to work from home where possible will remain in place until 21 June at the earliest.
A week before that date, a review will be published that will inform that latest advice on working from home. In the meantime, the document states that people should continue to work from home where they can until this review is complete.
The changing guidance will coincide with the removal of all legal limits on social contact and reopening of any closed settings such as nightclubs and other large venues.
Today’s document states: ‘Social distancing is difficult and damaging for businesses and, as a result, it is important to return to as near to normal as quickly as possible. Ahead of Step 4, as more is understood about the impact of vaccines on transmission and a far greater proportion of the population has been vaccinated, the government will complete a review of social distancing measures and other long-term measures that have been put in place to limit transmission.’
By the time the guidance is revised, many law firm workers will have barely set foot in the office for 15 months and it remains to be seen what proportion will prefer to return to office working full-time once the restrictions are completely lifted. Many City and international firms have already said they will require less office space and will require people to come into the office less frequently.
In a Downing Street press conference, prime minister Boris Johnson said he was sceptical of predictions that the pandemic would mean a ‘fundamental change’ to working life in big cities.
‘The better remote communication gets and the more people can see each other and talk on mobile devices, as a paradox the more actually they want to see each other face to face,’ said Johnson. ‘That I’m sure will come back. I think that London and our great cities will be filled full of buzz and life and excitement again.’